The journey to finding the right heat pump starts with calculating the required heating capacity (kW) for your home. Then, work your way through these steps.
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The most important thing when choosing a heat pump is getting one that's the right size for the area/room you're heating. A model with insufficient heat output (kW) won’t keep your home at a desired temperature without working too hard and using too much power. However, an oversized unit costs more than you need to spend, and will reach the set temperature quickly so will be constantly turning on and off, which increases wear and tear.
For a guide, the table below shows approximate heat outputs required for a well-insulated living room with standard 2.4m ceilings. But it varies considerably depending on the area of windows and the number of external walls, among other factors.
|Room area (m)||Heat pump capacity (kW)|
For a more precise guide on how many kW you need, use our calculator. This is also a good way to check if a heat pump recommended by an installer is the right size for the job.
Look for models that are about the size calculated or 0.5kW more (so if you need 4.5kW, look for models between 4.5 and 5.0kW). Then, use our “Heating efficiency” scores and remove any heat pump with a below average (less than 7.0) score. If possible, only consider models scoring 8.0 or above. If you’re going to be using it as an air conditioner during summer, then also consider the cooling efficiency scores.
The next step is considering the climate in your part of the country. The manufacturer’s claimed heat output and efficiency (COP) are based on tests conducted at 7°C, but below this temperature performance falls off dramatically. Our “low temperature score” is based on the performance at 2°C.
If you’re in an area where winter temperatures regularly drop below 5°C, choose a heat pump with a low temperature performance score above 7.0. This is important as heat pumps are most likely to frost up (where ice forms on the compressor coils) between 0°C and 5°C. They’ll then need to go into defrost mode for 20 minutes or more, which means they’ll be focussing energy on defrosting rather than heating.
Then, consider whether you want a high-wall or floor-mounted console. We think floor-mounts are the best bet for quick heating if you’ve got the floor space, but if you want a more out-of-sight heater then high-walls are also a good option. Ceiling cassettes, where the indoor unit is mounted into the ceiling, are worth considering if you lack wall or floor space.
Models with noise scores greater than 7.0 are quieter than average for their size. Consider the noise of both the indoor and outdoor unit, as a noisy outdoor unit can aggravate neighbours, while a loud indoor unit can make you pine for your old inefficient oil-column heater.
You can whittle the choice down further by considering features such as:
You should get two or three installers to provide detailed quotes and proposed installation plans. When choosing an installer, ensure they follow EECA’s good practice guide to heat pump installation, are brand accredited for the heat pumps they install and have experience installing heat pumps in your area. They should be able to offer references for local jobs.
When you have the quotes, there are some checks you can do to give peace of mind that the proposed installation will get the best from out of the heat pump:
See our full guide to heat pump installation and costs for more info.
Even if you’ve bought the perfect heat pump for your home, and your installer’s done everything by the book, you won’t get the most out of it if you don’t use it properly:
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